Tom Jackson • firstname.lastname@example.org
SANDUSKY — Oliver Hazard Perry led an American fleet to victory in the War of 1812 in perhaps the most decisive action of the war.
So he’s earned his new documentary film about the Battle of Lake Erie, fought on Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay.
A producer says that a coffee table book and a miniseries are in the works, too.
Filming has begun on “We Have Met the Enemy,” a documentary on the 1813 battle. Shooting began early this year in Erie, Pa., and continued in late June in Newport, R.I., where the war hero is buried.
The documentary is being produced by Lou Reda Productions, which has a long track record in making documentaries. Scott Reda is serving as the executive producer for “We Have Met the Enemy,” with John Kuzdale and Mark Nixon also serving as executive producers.
Scott Reda said that Kuzdale and Nixon phoned him a year and a half ago, asking if he’d take on the project.
That made sense, considering the track record of Lou Reda Productions.
They’ve made many documentaries, including “WW 2 in HD: The Air War,” and “The Three Wars of the Battleship Missouri.” Back in 1982, company founder Lou Reda made a CBS miniseries, “The Blue and the Gray,” with Gregory Peck as Abe Lincoln.
But Scott Reda already was primed for the project. Several years ago, when he came along to his son’s job interview in Erie, Pa., Reda wound up spending hours at the city’s maritime museum, which focuses on the Battle of Lake Erie, and has the ship Niagara, a replica of Perry’s flagship.
“I really did fall in love with the town,” Reda said. He decided the battle would make a “cool documentary.”
“It seems like the War of 1812 is skipped over,” Reda said. “I tell folks that General Motors could have been located in Canada if it wasn’t for Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie.”
Perry was 28 when he led the Americans to victory on Sept. 10, 1813, destroying a British squadron. Perry also aided in other American victories during the campaigns on and near Lake Erie.
Filming also is planned locally.
“We will be filming interviews in Put-in-Bay,” said Reda, who came to the town for a scouting trip last year. “That will be hopefully in late summer.”
“We Have Met the Enemy” is scheduled for release in 2017.
Major cable networks are interested, and the film also will be available for purchase and rent.
Meanwhile, the producers also want to put out a coffee table book and produce a miniseries for cable.
The project has evolved.
In November 2014, when the project was touted in a November 2014 press conference at Lake Erie Shores and Islands West near Port Clinton, a feature film was planned.
Instead, the producers now want a “transmedia project,” with three pieces — the documentary, the book and the miniseries — supporting each other, Nixon explained.
“This is going to be a much grander project than we envisioned originally,” Nixon said.
He said he envisions a miniseries that would have perhaps a three-hour premiere, and then eight to ten other episodes.
All of this should be good news for tourism in Ottawa County, he said.
“In terms of your area, this is going to be big,” Nixon said.